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Reconstructing Martian Near-surface Winds with Regional Lander Networks

Presentation #317.03 in the session Future Missions and Instrumentations - Rocky Bodies, Atmospheres (Poster + Lightning Talk)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Reconstructing Martian Near-surface Winds with Regional Lander Networks

Human missions to Mars will require detailed knowledge of local meteorological conditions. Continuous measurement of winds in the vicinity of a landing site is needed to provide accurate local weather monitoring and forecasting, thus preparing future expeditions to minimise the operational impact of hazardous dust events, and to ensure compliance with COSPAR planetary protection requirements regarding potential contamination of ‘special regions’ within the human exploration zone through the atmospheric transport of contaminants from human activities. Key to understanding this local-scale atmospheric transport will be obtaining accurate measurements of the 3D wind vector, most likely through a network of landers equipped with meteorological instrumentation. Here we build on a prior ESA internal study on a Mars Weather Network Mission to present an analysis of wind variability across six candidate landing sites - Chryse Planitia, Gusev and Schiaparelli craters, Mesopotamia, Mawrth Vallis and Hypanis Vallis. We also calculate the optimal positioning of a network of four landers at each site. Local winds were simulated using the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique Mars Mesoscale Model. An Empirical Orthogonal Function analysis was then applied, which decomposed the near-surface wind into orthogonal spatial patterns (EOFs). We found that the first 3 EOFs captured 75-90% of wind variability at most sites, except at Schiaparelli crater where EOF convergence was slow. The optimal lander configuration at each site was then calculated using a modified gradient descent algorithm, and the impacts of both off-centre landings and the loss of any single lander were quantified. Two sites (Gusev crater and Mawrth Vallis) were discounted due to a lack of viable landing locations leading to poor coverage of the EOFs. We conclude that the Hypanis Vallis site is the most suitable of the six studied sites for effective wind field reconstruction and meteorological monitoring from a network of four landers.

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